Insights from Herding Group Judges

Herding Group Judges

Showsight reached out to top AKC Herding Group Judges and asked them for their expert insights about the group overall along with their expertise on specific Herding Breeds.

  1. Where do you live? How many years in dogs? How many as a judge?
  2. Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs?
  3. Can you talk about your introduction to the Herding breeds?
  4. Have you bred any influential Herding dogs? Have you shown any notable winners?
  5. Can you speak a bit about breed-specific presentation?
    Any examples?
  6. What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Herding breeds?
  7. Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic?
  8. The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they?
  9. Can you speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog?
  10. Do you have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group?
  11. Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest
    influence on the sport?
  12. Is there a funny story you can share about your experiences judging the Herding breeds?

Mary Anne Brocious

Herding Group JudgesThank you, for inviting me to comment in ShowSight’s Herding Edition. It is a privilege.

I live in Milford, Michigan, about 20 miles North of Ann Arbor. I got my first show quality Old English Sheepdog in 1973. (Dare I do the math—48 years ago—and it seems like yesterday.) I have been judging since 1982, but only a couple of breeds then because I was very active in breeding and showing a high maintenance breed. In the early 1990s, I began to add breeds. As a breeder, the process was very slow. (One for one breed, two for two breeds, and so on.) I worked consistently on the Herding and Working breeds since these are what I knew best. I added Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen’s later on, after having some success breeding and showing them.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? We still keep a few Old English Sheepdogs for showing and breeding, but my husband and I are avid Classic Car Collectors and, of course, competitors. We compete with our cars in local and out-of-state car shows and cruises, and we enjoy the comradery with fellow enthusiasts. We travel when we can, but of course, COVID has kept us home. We hope to resume our travels to some places on our must-see list. Though you wanted to know about outside activities, a big part of my time is given to the Ann Arbor Kennel Club of which I am a life member. I am currently Vice President and Show Chair. Our Club has grown our event to one of the premier dog shows in the Midwest.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? While not coming from a dog-oriented family, I couldn’t figure out why I was always attracted to dogs. Mostly mixed breeds, but I was always fascinated by them. My aunt had a purebred Collie that was my constant companion as a girl, and I loved the personality of this beautiful Herding dog. As a young girl growing up, I had a collection of dog statues that got bigger every year as my family added to it at Christmas and Birthdays. I still have it. After undergraduate school, I researched various purebred breeds and came up with Old English Sheepdogs, a Herding dog like the Collie of my youth. I had recently moved from Pennsylvania to Michigan and found successful OES breeders, Tammy and Marvin Smith (Tamara Kennel) and purchased my first OES [from them]. I went on to breed and own over 100 champions with a small, but successful breeding program. With the mentoring from Tammy and Marvin, as well as learning all I could from other successful breeders of not only OES, but other Herding breeds, I learned about canine anatomy, pedigrees, breed standards, breed type, breeding for health and temperament, and the care and maintenance of a heavily coated breed.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? I have had a good deal of show ring success with all-breed Best in Show wins, Group wins and placements and National Specialty wins. Winning as an owner-handler was very rewarding. While I have bred several top-producing sires and dams, our Ch. Qubic’s The Buck Stops Here won the OESCA Top Twenty and many Groups. His legacy, however, is his more than 30 champion offspring, with very limited breeding. We just used the last of his frozen semen and have some promising offspring coming up. In 2012, we won Best of Breed, Best of Winners, Winners Dog, and Winners Bitch at the OESCA National Specialty. What a day! In 2013, I was named Herding Breeder of the Year by the Santa Barbara Kennel Club.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Herding dogs need a job! They are lively and always alert to their surroundings, sometimes making them a training and presentation challenge. You want to see that eagerness to want to work and keep everyone, and everything, in line; a confident kindness. In Border Collies, you want to see the “stealth” profile when moving; so they have a good eye on their charges. You want to see a spritely look to a Sheltie that shows its watchful eye on the sheep or ducks. You want to see the Briard able to move all day, working as a moving fence to keep the flock on a small plot of ground. The German Shepherd Dog must have the stamina to keep moving all day to surround the cattle. These are just a few breed-specific examples. The Herding dogs, the Blue-Collar Group, are workers and companions to their masters like no other. For many years, the Herding Group did not command the respect from Judges as it does today. Breeders have brought these breeds to new levels of soundness and they are presented in such a way that they can’t be missed in the Best in Show ring.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? The recent rise in popularity of Herding breeds is a direct result of breeders who are committed to breeding dogs that closely meet their breed standards and have the “it” factor in presentation. Many years ago, Corky Vroom showed “Iron Eyes,” the Bouvier, to many great wins—that team had “it.” Many great German Shepherds, presented by Jimmy Moses, reached the highest of honors in the show ring with the “it” factor. More recently, you have young breeders coming up, building on the pedigrees and success of their predecessors in such breeds as Australian Shepherds, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Border Collies, and Shetland Sheepdogs. This new breeder-exhibitors breed for type and soundness, and they spend the necessary time and effort to hone their presentation.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? Many of the newly recognized Herding Breeds are very rustic. As “farm” dogs and workers, they are not fancy. As a judge, you have to understand what they were bred to do and the history behind each of these new breeds in order to know the best of them. Reward the ones that are standard-compliant as well as those presenting the personality and character of the breed. These breeds will become more popular with judges—and more competitive—as the exhibitors learn to bring out the conformation qualities and personalities of these breeds in their presentation.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? While I have never trained a performance dog, some of my dogs have gone on to achieve these titles with their owners. This is tremendously important to Herding dogs. As I said earlier, Herding dogs need a job. Training a Herding dog in these disciplines gives the dog and owner an opportunity to bond, and the dog has a chance to use its instincts and talent in the various exercises. The other area in which Herding dogs excel is as Therapy Dogs. Their kind spirit and desire to please come across with each visit to hospitals, assisted-living facilities, and schools.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? For new Herding judges, I’d suggest that you look at the Group as a whole. Is the Swedish Vallhund a better example of the breed than the Australian Shepherd is of its breed? Keep in mind what each of these dogs was bred to do and which ones are most compliant to their breed standard. Be true to these judging protocols and you will enjoy the Herding breeds—and you will find the best Herding dogs in your Group.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? As I noted earlier, “Iron Eyes” the Bouvier and “Manhattan” the German Shepherd, along with “Grace” the Australian Shepherd, “Sobe” the Australian Cattle Dog, “Sammy Sosa” the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, “Rascal” the Old English Sheepdog, and “Peter Pumpkin” the Sheltie were wonderful examples of their respective breeds. (I could go on for days with this list.) I watched all of these dogs while I was showing and breeding OES, and I had the opportunity to judge some of them as well. They were outstanding examples of their breeds and had the “it” factor whenever you watched them. They generated attitude and personality just standing there!

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? This is not a direct judging story, but it is a story about the small world of dog judging: I was at dinner at a show and was seated at the far end of the table. When we began talking, the late Bob Moore was asked by another judge (the lovely Doris Cozart) how his genealogical research was going. He quickly indicated that he had made a recent discovery that his mother was not a Masterson from Decatur, Georgia, but a Masterson from Decatur, Alabama. This caught my ear. I raised my hand, and said, “Mr. Moore, my Grandmother is a Masterson from Decatur, Alabama.” He flashed me a look, quickly brought his chair to my end of the table, and began to quiz me on my family’s background. I told him what I knew and he asked if he could call me after the shows. He did call on Sunday evening before I got home. I talked with him on Monday and gave him family specifics and telephone numbers. He did the research and got back to me to say that he had found that we were third cousins! He was very happy to find a living relative! The next time I saw him was at the Cleveland Winter Classic Dog Shows and he greeted me with: “I checked you out and you are a good one. Would you like to sit with me?” This started a friendship via e-mail and telephone to talk about dogs and family. Being his “new” cousin, I learned so much about dogs in a short time. He asked if I was going to the AKC shows in Florida where he was to judge Best in Show. I told him I was coming to watch and he invited me to meet his family that was coming with him. I met his wife and son at the post-show party and sat for a while talking about our connection. He died a few months later.

Earlier in my story, I talked about my early fascination with dogs. After meeting Bob and finding a “blood” relative, giving me some background, I found out where it came from; Bob had the same fascination with dogs early in his life too!

Lee Brown

Herding Group JudgesI live in Slidell, Louisiana, which is a suburb about 30 miles from New Orleans. I have been in dogs for 50 years, starting in Obedience then moving to exhibit in Conformation. I recently received my 25-year judging certificate from the American Kennel Club.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I do not have other hobbies. Any free time that I have, I spend with my family. I do enjoy the dogs and, combined with family, that is about all the time I have to spare.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? My wife and I had built a new home and, in a very short period of time, it was broken into three times. My wife, who had been raised with GSDs, insisted we get one. Truth be told, at that time I was actually scared of the breed. I gave in and we purchased one. Then, she insisted I train the dog, so I joined an obedience club and did just that. I decided I liked it and started competing in Obedience. At that time, most AB clubs also had Obedience at their Conformation shows. We would always end up at the Conformation ring. From there, I decided I wanted to show in Conformation. That is where my interest started in Conformation exhibiting.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? I would not consider it an influential dog, but I leased a bitch and bred her to Maturity Victor. She was all German lines and he was all Americans lines. I was told that this was not the way to breed; starting with an outcross breeding. Outcrossing was not good breeding practices. There were five puppies in the litter. One male finished his Championship at 17 months and went on to produce 17 Champions. He was shown mostly locally, not nationally, so he did not have much exposure. So much for all the breeders who told me that an outcross would not give me a show prospect and would not give me a producer.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? First thing you want is breed type; it must look like a GSD. When they first come in the ring, the first impression is important. In keeping with breed type, if a class walks in and I have a very poor specimen, I know that dog will not win. I still give them the same amount of time and attention as all other animals. These are the exhibitors who could very well be good breeders and exhibitors in the future, if treated well. Handlers should get their dogs to look their best as they enter the ring, with the first gait around the ring. Handlers should show their dogs at all times. The judge’s eyes are all over that ring, so you want your dog to look its best at all times.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? As I’ve said, it must have breed type. You should not have to question whether it is a GSD or not. Temperament is extremely important in the GSD. You want a dog with a good rear drive and a good back to transmit to an outreaching front. This is a movement breed with a ground-covering gait. The breed should move with ease and close to the ground. This is important if you have a dog that lifts a bit, and the front feet touch the ground past its nose; that is fine with me. Then you have the dog that does not lift, and travels close to the ground, but his front feet touch the ground under his ears. That dog is not covering ground as a Herding dog should. The dog that lifts a bit would win, if I am judging. I like masculine dogs and feminine bitches; this includes a nice head
for each.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? I was already judging when the Australian Shepherd was registered with AKC. When I first started judging them, none looked alike. There was no breed type. The breeders have since done a great job of developing a good breed type, and it is now very competitive in the Herding Group. Most have beautiful heads and coats. Most are well-trained and show very well, which should catch a judge’s eye due to their quality
and showmanship.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? A few are competitive, but for the most part they are not. I think most are still working on their development stages of structure.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? There are so many performance titles now, it is hard to say. The GSD, I would say, is making a comeback. As an example, more exhibitors are working their dogs toward Herding titles. When I got started in Obedience, the GSD was probably the most popular Obedience dog, but today you have very few in the OB ring.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? Of course, read your standard and know how to apply it when judging. Attend any seminars available to you. Get a good mentor or several mentors. You do not want one who will focus too much on what they are breeding. If possible, attend a National Specialty because there is much to learn there. That is where you will want to line yourself up with a good mentor.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Opinions will vary when it comes to which dogs have had the most influence on a given breed. In my case, I can only speak to the GSD as this was my breed. I was an active breeder and exhibitor for years prior to becoming a judge. For the record, I want to stress again that this is my opinion; others might
think differently.

I would say, in our breed, the most influential dog was 1967 GV Lance of Fran-Jo, ROM. Nearly all current bloodlines in the US go back to “Lance.” Another very influential dog was Select CH Stuttgart’s Sundance Kid, ROM. He was known as “Bear” and was very influential in the 1980s. As we moved into the mid-to-late 1990s, another influential dog was 2000 US GV Hickoryhills Bull Durham, ROM. “Bull” progeny were dogs that I was most familiar with in my judging career. I did not know the dog’s owners early on, but when I found that I kept rewarding his progeny, I eventually met them through a mutual friend.

“Bull” progeny possessed the effortless side gait, sound temperament, and breed type that I preferred—and still prefer to this day. Unlike many well-used, more popular dogs, Bull actually left his stamp on his progeny when bred to a variety of bitches from different bloodlines. There are more recent, influential dogs in our breed (some of which have produced even more champions) and it is not my intention to diminish their influence. However, in my opinion, what differentiated Bull from them was not his number of champions, but that he could reproduce himself consistently. His progeny often went on to also be great producers that passed on his superb character, effortless ground-covering side gait, and breed type, all of which are so important in our breed. His progeny seem to have the show ring ability built into their character. They consistently get in the ring and show themselves with little help from the handler and/or the almighty double handler.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? There was a dog, one time, that decided on his way out of the ring to lift his leg and urinate on mine. I’d given my opinion (he did not win), so he gave me his opinion. I guess there are more stories, but I get so focused on judging when in the ring that I do not notice much of anything else.

Houston Clark

Herding Group JudgesAlthough we are originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, we built a lake home in Decatur, Tennessee, after we sold our boarding and grooming kennel there. My wife and I were all-breed professional handlers for 25 years prior to our retirement in 1986 when I began judging with
one Group.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Of course, we fish every chance we get as we live on the lake with a jet ski and a bass boat. Following our handling retirement, I joined the local Bass Club and fished tournaments.

We have a large family with two sons, two daughters, and now eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. So, we enjoy our paradise with our awesome family.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? I was reared on a horse farm in Cleveland, Tennessee, where my father bred Tennessee Walking Horses and I showed walk/trot and five-gaited horses. This was my childhood passion, as I showed horses from an early age. When we built our first home, we also built what I intended to be a horse barn… but it soon became a kennel.

Unable to finance a horse or the horses that I wanted, I became the proud owner of a German Shepherd Dog that I trained and showed in Obedience. Shortly thereafter, I taught Obedience classes for the Chattanooga Kennel Club, and the lure of showing in dog shows followed shortly thereafter. One of our friends imported a handsome Shepherd, but our friend couldn’t train him. So, after I did, he was gifted to me as my first “show dog.”

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? We bred a few German Shepherds and other breeds, but decided that our area of expertise was not in breeding. However, we take our hats off to breeders because they are smart, talented, and deserve more credit than they receive.

My first Group winner was a Doberman Pinscher in 1963, but the first BIS for me was in 1964 with a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. We always owned a Corgi and probably showed more Corgis than any other breed. REMEMBER, THAT IN THOSE DAYS, THE HERDING BREEDS WERE IN THE WORKING GROUP UNTIL 1984.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? As a former all-breed professional handler, I am aware of correct and incorrect handling and grooming of the different breeds. But that talent (or lack thereof) doesn’t influence my placements… except, of course, when a totally inept person ruins the exhibit and/or the grooming.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? The Herding breeds have improved over the years, in most cases. But as with all breeds of dogs, there are peaks and valleys. One thing that makes Herding breeds so attractive to all of us is that they are intuitive and intelligent. This is not to say that there aren’t other breeds of dogs with these abilities, but these traits are always with the Herding breeds.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? Some breeds are ready for the shows and already had a following when they were introduced to AKC shows, whereas others are more rare.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? Personally, I think that AKC brings new breeds in before they have a following, so it takes several years before the exhibits “stamp” their breed. Additionally, the new rare breeds are rarely seen. One exception is the Berger Picard; they were recognizable from the get-go.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? When judging the Herding breeds, it is important to keep in mind how and what the different breeds were originally bred to do. Their conformation should complement the written standard, which in a majority of standards spells out the qualities that should be found in that breed. The written standard should remain our “AKC Bible.” It sometimes takes a while to get your “mind’s eye picture” of what the breed should be; this is the reason why familiarity with the breeds is important, because if one never sees the epitome of perfection for a breed it is hard to know this.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? With the COVID restrictions, it has been difficult to observe very much at dog shows these days, but this is the best teaching tool. Familiarize yourself with the breeds and, again, with what each was bred to do. The standards are essential for learning what the conformation should be and the reasons
for them.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Impossible to say.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? In the 1970s, one of our esteemed handlers sent me a Bouvier to handle as she was retiring to judge. I told her I had never seen one, except at the Garden, and didn’t know how to groom them. She said that she didn’t either, but that another handler would have one on the January Florida circuit and would help me. And so, the Bouvier arrived and had a great abundance of coat… all over. My wife had gone to the library and to all the bookstores and could find nothing about the breed except, of course, the standard.

The Eastern handler started out showing us a little about how to groom. But, after a short while, we assumed that he realized what an excellent specimen our dog was, and he wouldn’t let us watch anymore. By the end of the circuit, our new Bouvier defeated this handler’s dog and went on to win the strong Working Group in Palm Beach… and became one of the top Herding dogs in
the country.

Edy Dykstra-Blum

Herding Group JudgesI live in Ocala, Florida, and I have been in dogs since 1975. I’ve been an AKC judge since 2001.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I love art, but do not have time to concentrate on that as my dogs take up most of my time. There’s the occasional litter and some participation in shows; this also includes judging.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? I always was afraid of dogs until a friend sent me a picture of his dog on top of his car. That was the cutest dog, and I wanted one of those—and that happened to be an Old English Sheepdog. The rest is history.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? I’ve had some that are in many pedigrees, mainly in Europe. I never really campaigned dogs all over the country. The showing of dogs has always been a hobby and I never really cared for rankings; just breeding good, healthy dogs. However, my dogs have always placed and won in Groups; with my last two males to RBIS and BIS. Also, they have ranked as NHOS competition as Number I and 2.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Presenting the OES is an issue on its own. The over-grooming and cutting short on champion dogs is not the way to present an adult champion OES. Our standard calls for profuse, the neck well-coated with hair, and the hams coated with a thick, long jacket. You hardly see this in the ring. Now, necks are trimmed out and heads made up like Bichons. Other example is the speed of which they are presented. Most of the time, way too fast, often to cover up
movement faults.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? Every Herding dog has his unique character. Shyness is a big “no” and, unfortunately, is often seen. A Herding dog has to stand his ground, no matter the breed. They are supposed to be bred to work and not shy away from a single distraction.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? I think many are cute to look at, like the Pumi; an adorable dog a great temperament, not too large in size, which would make it a nice family dog. Also, with the newer breeds, people like the opportunity to own a new breed, and for exhibitors, trying to get the first champion, the first Group placement, the first BIS, and the first that (IMO) makes them more popular than the older existing breeds,

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? I would say that the newer breeds are highly competitive. As I mentioned before, the Pumi is doing great at shows. The Picard has earned a huge following and several beautiful dogs have been bred very competitively. The Miniature American Shepherd has big entries at about every show, the quality is growing very strong.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? I admire those who take the time and effort to work with their dogs, particularly in the fields they are meant to work in. I consider a High in Trial much more worthy than a
Conformation Championship.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? Yes. Take your time. Assess every dog carefully [against] what they are supposed to do. (Can they do that with a straight rear (just an example)? Never look up the leash. Use your eyes and your hands—and common sense.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? There is not just one, there are many: The German Shepherd Dog “Manhattan” and, for sure, “Dallas.” (They are in many pedigrees.); The Bouvier “Iron eyes” (the same) and quite a few more.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? There were many funny moments in almost every show I have judged, but nothing that I can pinpoint
right now.

A Herding dog has to stand his ground, no matter the breed. They are supposed to be bred to work and not shy away from a single distraction.

Amy Gau

Herding Group JudgesBorn into a family of Collie fanciers, I trained my first dog in obedience at age 13 and finished the first champion soon afterwards. Over 45 years later, I am still an active breeder and exhibitor of Collies under the Rosepoint kennel name. I have maintained a small kennel, but each dog here has at least 10 continuous generations of home-bred dogs recognized at the national level in our breed.

In the show ring, I have shown my Rosepoint Collies to multiple Best in Show and Best in Specialty wins, and I’ve owner-handled multiple dogs to ranking in both breed and all-breed top ten.

As a breeder, I have produced Collies that have not only won in the ring themselves, but contributed to pedigrees found in top winners and producers around the world. I am proud that each dog produced here at Rosepoint maintains the type and virtues needed in a Collie to excel in the show ring as well as maintaining the instinct and soundness that a Herding dog needs.

As a judge, I am approved by AKC to judge the Herding and Sporting Groups as well as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Junior Showmanship, Best in Show, and all Miscellaneous breeds. I have had the pleasure to judge around the world as well as at events held in conjunction with the AKC National Championship.

The highest honor as a Collie breeder-judge has been being asked by my peers to judge our National Specialty both in the US and in Canada. Judging specialties in any breed is always one of the most serious endeavors and honors. Evaluating and seeing what breeders have achieved, and rewarding the virtues that are so hard to get, has been a pleasure. Comparing the virtues that breeders across the globe produce, and sharing that for the betterment of all dogs, is a rewarding part of the “job.”

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Travel. And, at its best, dogs and travel come together.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? I was born into my breed, Collies. My father had Collies from the famed Arrowhill kennel, and I was hooked. As I showed my own dogs after moving to the Midwest (and watched from the “front row” of the Herding Group), I often found myself in the midst of the German Shepherd shown by Jimmy Moses or the Beardie shown by Mark Bettis. It was the beginning of my appreciation for the other breeds of the Group.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? The Herding Group is comprised of diverse dogs. Each breed has its own type characteristics, movement, and standard. They aren’t just about generic movement, coat or heads. Each should be presented according to its breed standard, and the judge should exam each with this in mind.

There are obvious differences, of course (a German Shepherd and a Corgi, obviously, should not be moved alike), but there are other differences as well. Don’t expect an Old English Sheepdog to have the exuberant nature of a Bearded Collie, or a Belgian Sheepdog to have the coat of a Collie.

A Collie person will almost always come back to you and present the face and expression—and you could likely make eye contact with them all day. But don’t expect to get in a stare down with a Canaan dog.

Across the Group, these breeds are not robots. While they can be hand-stacked for an exam, many are curious, alert, and aware of what you, the judge, are doing at all times. It is what they were bred to do. Being patient and having a sense of humor goes a long way in enjoying your day with the Herding breeds.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? While Herding breeds have different levels of acceptable aloofness, many dogs today are trained so well that they are quite friendly. Neither is to be penalized. However, there is not a Herding breed that should be afraid, timid or unable to be examined. Dog shows are just not that difficult an environment. I don’t really care if they are statues for an exam as long as I can find what I need to evaluate, structurally. But stable temperament is essential to any Herding breed.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? For many, a love of a Herding breed started with a family farm dog, a favorite TV show or books. German Shepherds, Collies, Old English Sheepdogs, and Picards all have had their spotlight in the sun on film.

Continued popularity comes when they enter your home. They love their families and their people. Their natural herding and protective instincts make them a wonderful addition to the home. I know that my parents treated the Collies as trusted nannies when I was growing up.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? Many of the “new” breeds are really only new to AKC, but not especially new in the world. Most are highly competitive, and many came in with particularly strong breed type. One example is the Picard, which came in with strong structure—particularly fronts. The challenge now for their
breeders and for the judges who evaluate them is to help to keep them strong as they grow in popularity.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? For the breeder, performance titles can be just as important as the conformation title. If we put our dogs to the test in the conformation ring for independent evaluation of their type, structure, and quality, the performance and herding venue is where we evaluate their continued instinct for what they were bred to do. Not every breeder has the time or ability to do both, but they can support those with their dogs in both venues.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? It sounds obvious, but the first piece of advice I’d have is: They aren’t all the same. Just as the Hound Group has Sight or Scent Hounds, and the Sporting Group has Retriever, Pointer, Setter, and Spaniel, the Herding Group is made up of many different types of herding dogs. Learn what makes each unique.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds?My first Bearded Collie entry of any size, with the rep watching, I will never forget it.

It was an outdoor park show site, with cool weather, and very happy dogs. The judging started out well; fun puppies and great exhibitors. Then we had a little hiccup. A class dog slipped its lead and went bounding around the ring. Thank goodness it didn’t seem to realize that it could jump the gaiting and run; it was content to happily run around the ring, evading its owner and everyone else. Wouldn’t you know it was my Winners Dog.

Things continued to go well, and we make it to Breed judging. Moving them around, my Winners Bitch, apparently, decided slipping the lead would also be fun. More running, holding our breath that she wasn’t smarter than the dog to realize that she could leave the ring (she wasn’t), and lots of patience as we waited for her to rejoin us.

I honestly don’t remember which was Best of Winners, but the dogs were fine and they obviously had great, happy temperaments!

Judging wrapped up, all of us laughing, and all I could think of was Chris Walkowicz and her words: “If you don’t have a sense of humor, you can’t judge Beardies!”

Sulie Greendale-Paveza

Herding Group JudgesI got my first dog, a Rough Collie, in 1958. I have raised Shetland Sheepdogs since 1979, and bred the Winner’s Bitch at one of our Nationals. I have also bred champions in Australian Cattle Dogs, Rough Collies, and Longhaired Dachshunds. My education includes a bachelors degree in music education and a masters in recreation therapy. I worked both in psychiatry and geriatrics as a recreation/music therapist. I also worked part-time as a medical liaison for a law firm that specialized in personal injury cases. I have also sung professionally since I was seven years old, doing musical comedy, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and opera all over the Midwest and, until recently, I was still singing the National Anthem (American and Canadian) at many of the shows I judge. As a handler, I showed primarily Herding dogs, finishing over 300 Collies and Shelties for some of the top breeders in the Midwest, as well as some Working and a few Sporting breeds. I am approved to judge four Groups: Herding, Working, Hound, and Sporting as well as all but four Non-Sporting breeds. I have judged in Columbia, China (twice), Japan, Venezuela, Mexico (three times), Australia (twice) and Austria. We moved to Connecticut after living in the Chicago area for 58 years when my husband, Greg, accepted a position as Dean of Graduate Studies and the Library at Southern Connecticut State University. When he retired two years ago, we made the move to sunny Florida to never have to deal with ice and snow again! Currently, we have one 11-year old retired champion LH Dachshund, one five-year old champion Shetland Sheepdog, and three rescue cats.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Yes, I was a voice major and got my Bachelors in Music Education, and did professional theater in Chicago since I was seven years old. I acquired my master’s degree in recreation therapy and worked in both psychiatry and geriatrics.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? My older brother married a woman whose aunt was a Shetland Sheepdog judge and breeder. I started going with her to shows, and met Joe Molloy, who was one of the top Sheltie handlers at the time. He took me under his wing and, through him, I was educated by some of the matriarchs and patriarchs of the breed in the Midwest; Julie Desy, Boyd Smith and, in Collies, Joyce Houser, Rita Stanczik, and Joyce Weineman, all of whom I eventually handled for.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? I bred the Winners Bitch at our National. I piloted the career of a Rough Collie champion, making him the best in
the Midwest.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Not all Herding dogs do their job in the same manner. A Border Collie moves with its head lower, using its stare to control the herd. Showing a Border Collie on a tight lead, with its head up above its shoulders, is completely wrong. I always make it a point of telling the exhibitors, “loose lead,” when they move. In general, one should not show any Herding dog with its head above its shoulders. The speed with which you present your dog is very important also. A drover, such as an OES, should be moved at a much slower pace than a German Shepherd Dog.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? Breed character is most important as it is one of the aspects of each breed that separates it from the others. It is easier to assess breed character by watching obedience and herding trials, as most conformation dogs have been trained to stop, stack, and stare at the bait. However, with experience, one gets to a point where you can just “feel” the dog’s character when you approach it.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? Lassie and Rin Tin Tin certainly popularized their breeds in the 1950s and 1960s, which made them very popular as pets.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? Each breed should be evaluated on its own merit. We currently have a Pyrenean Shepherd and a Beauceron out there winning Best in Shows. A great dog will rise to the top, no matter what!

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? I think it is absolutely wonderful for any dog and its owner to pursue whichever titles may interest them. This hobby is supposed to be enjoyable for all involved.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? My advice to new, aspiring judges is to get to know each breed individually, outside of the conformation ring. We can all pass an open book test, but to know the ESSENCE of a breed requires a different approach. Go to a show where you are NOT judging, find the folks with the breed you are interested in (after they have finished in the ring), and just hang out and talk about their unique qualities.

Aside from reading the standard and passing the written test, I would also suggest that you attend a herding trial to experience how each dog does its job. Knowing the factors that are needed to do the job efficiently, and which specific factors are needed for each breed, will help to make you a better judge.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? “Hatter,” the German Shepherd, and “Thunderation,” the Shetland Sheepdog; both of these dogs broke all the records, were consummate show dogs, and they were beautiful examples of breed type.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? This was not judging, but I took my champion Sheltie, who was the mother of our National’s Winners Bitch, to a herding trial. She walked into the ring of geese, sniffed a pile of goose poop on the ground, looked up at me, crinkling her nose, ran out of the ring to the van, got in her crate and laid down… clearly telling me that she (the “queen”) was not going anywhere near those “smelly birds!”

Rick Gschwender

Rick Gschwender has been active in the dog show world since 1979 with the Bouvier Des Flandres. Through the years, Rick bred Bouviers, first under Rombo Bouviers, and then, later, under Rendezvous Bouviers when he married Debra in 1989. He produced multiple National Specialty winners and multiple Group winners. Recently retired, he was employed with Ford Motor Company for over 39 years.

Mr. Gschwender is licensed to judge the Herding Group, the Working Group, Best in Show, and 16 Sporting Breeds. He has had the honor of judging the Bouvier des Flandres National Specialty, Best of Bred at the Australian Shepherd National, and the Westminster Kennel Club, judging both Herding and Working breeds, and the Herding Group in 2006.

I live in Nampa, Idaho. I have had dogs since I was about 10 years old. I started showing dogs in 1979 and have been judging for 24 years.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? In the fall, I spend time bird hunting with my German Shorthaired Pointer, and in the summer, I do some fishing. I also try to make it to the gym several times a week.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? I worked for Ford Motor Company and was on a waiting list for the apprenticeship. My first wife and I had three young children, and she wanted a big dog because, once I went on the apprenticeship, I would be on afternoon shift and not home a night. That’s when we decided on a Bouvier des Flandres.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? Bouviers were the only breed I have bred. I have had several National Specialty, Herding and Working Group winners, owner-handled by me.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? The Herding Group is pretty much the same, either on the table, ramp or ground. They are mostly set up and held by the collar. The Belgians breeds and Collies are usually baited, and the German Shepherd Dog is setup differently, with one rear leg under the dog.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? Some of the Herding breeds can be aloof. Others can be suspicious, and some are just happy and friendly. It all depends on the breed. You can usually see how the dog responds when you approach and go over the dog.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? Herding breeds were originally used to move and control stock, working with the shepherd or the owner. This created a strong bond between the two. Most Herding breeds are easy to live with and want to be with their owners. They are intelligent and trainable, but some do get bored with
constant repetition.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? There are several breeds that are able to compete rather easily in the Herding Group. Miniature American Shepherds and Berger Picards are two.

Can I speak to the value of value of a performance title in a Herding dog? I have not been involved with performance events other than with helping at a club agility event. I think that as long as the dog enjoys the event and has fun, then that’s great.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? When judging dogs—and not just Herding dogs—do not stare at the dogs. Some of these breeds can be protective. Go over the dogs, but do not spend the day massaging the dog.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? The German Shepherd Dogs: Covy-Tucker Hill’s Manhattan and Altana’s Mystique.

Stephanie S. Hedgepath

I live outside of Lexington, South Carolina, in a rural area of the county, southwest of Columbia. I started showing dogs with the purchase of my first German Shepherd Dog in 1969. I have been judging since 1988.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I enjoy gardening, traveling with my husband of nearly 50 years, and creating artwork, from crafts to fine art.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? I started in 1969 with the purchase of my first show dog, a German Shepherd Dog. I have always believed that a purebred dog should still be able to perform the job for which he was created, so I not only showed in conformation, I also trained my dog in Schutzhund training (obedience, tracking, and protection). I joined forces with several airmen stationed at McIntire Air Base in Sumter, South Carolina, to train weekly in Schutzhund. Hence, I became familiar with obedience, tracking, and man work. Not until I had been in Pembroke Welsh Corgis for several years did I become aware of the attributes most needed for herding.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? To be perfectly honest, I never campaigned a dog until the present. I just didn’t care about rankings, as I wanted to bring them home and breed on for the next generation. I was far more interested in breeding and rearing pups to be the best they could be, and not so interested in going for national rankings. I always showed my own dogs, except, perhaps, on rare occasions when I felt that a judging panel would appreciate a dog that only lacked a few points (or maybe a major to finish) and I was slated to be elsewhere on the dates of the shows. Peter Baynes stepped in and showed a few of them for me. I look at showing as just one more thing I can do with a dog I love, so I always wanted to be on the other end of the lead. I have tried to come up with a final count on the number of dogs I have bred that became champions or those that were finished by others, and think I have finished in the area of 60 dogs to their championships, plus some with many titles behind their names as well.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Presentation can and does vary from breed to breed, even within a specific Group. In Pembroke Corgis, they should be gaited on a loose lead at a reasonable pace. This spills over to just about every breed in the Group. Movement is an integral part of type and depends much upon which livestock the dog was managing, the terrain over which it worked, and the climate in which it lived and worked. Running a dog too fast is often far more detrimental to the side gait of any dog—as it often points even more clearly to a faulty part of the dog’s anatomy. The best example of this is a dog with more drive than reach. There are two ways to try to keep the body in balance: The dogs can waste time in the air with the front legs in order to let the more angulated hindquarters finish its follow-through; or, when forced to move faster, they wind up pounding the front legs into the ground with each step because of the faster speed. This is like putting a neon-lighted arrow, pointing to the coat bouncing up and down over the withers as the dog moves, flashing the message: “Here is a major fault.”

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? In one of my “Form Follows Function” articles, I discuss the fact that the one thing a judge really cannot completely evaluate in the ring is the “heart” of the dog. Judges, as well as owners, should be able to read the body language of a dog. Body language is how the dogs communicate with each other and also with us. I look for a dog that is relaxed in the ring, focused on the handler and, if startled, they may react to the sound but will quickly return their attention to the handler. A nervous dog is one with his eyes rolling around and often tucking its tail. They are stiff in body and over-reactive—and become moreso as a judge approaches them.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? I started with a German Shepherd Dog when they were at the height of their popularity. I think most of us are attracted to any animal with an outgoing personality. How can you not smile at happy, biddable dogs that are so in tune with the wants and needs of their humans that they often know what you want from them before you do?! Some breeds are meant to work independently of man, but the majority of the Herding breeds work closely with their master and are quite intuitive in what is expected of them next. I believe that the intelligence and willingness to perform just about any task their owners have for them to do is what most endears them to us. Of course, not all of the breeds in the Herding Group react exactly the same to every situation. Some of them are far more biddable than others. It still boils down to the fact that they were developed to work closely with man, and this wonderful trait survives in them all.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? Funny you should ask this. Right before COVID hit, I had the pleasure of judging the Herding Group at the Beverly Hills Kennel Club show in California. There was a representative of every Herding breed recognized by AKC in that ring. They almost didn’t all fit into what was a very spacious ring! I thought, “Wow! Look at this! It has been awhile since I have seen them all in the ring at one time. This is going to be so much fun!” As to competitiveness, I have found just about all of the new breeds to be competitive with the popular breeds. When a new breed first starts to show and gathers numbers, much depends upon the quality of those first dogs being shown. Sometimes the parent clubs do not have enough experienced, long-term breeders with the depth of knowledge it takes to not only import good dogs, but also to constantly breed them as well. These breeds may falter a bit more at the start of their recognition and then, as more experience is gained, the dogs improve—some by leaps and bounds.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? I highly value any dog that has proven that it not only represents its standard well, but can also perform the duties for which it was developed. The proof of structure is movement. Some dogs may have both, but are totally disinterested in livestock. I believe this is why dogs have litters, because it is nearly impossible to get everything right in one pup. As a conformation judge, it always warms my heart when I see dogs that I have judged listed with more titles behind the name than in front of it. But, it is simply not possible to determine the “heart” of the dog in the conformation ring.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? Yes! Please get a good mentor in the breed you are studying and USE THEM! I have found that I especially needed my mentors after I had started judging the breed. One may think they are ready to judge, and yet, sometimes, when standing in the middle of the ring, your thoughts are near to panic as you simply cannot seem to find the dog that you have in your head as the “ideal.” This is when I call my mentor and we talk through all of the classes, so that I can find what I did well and what I need to improve. I will tell you right now, you are going to have a breed that it takes you quite a while to “get.”

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Oh, boy! There are so very many dogs I have loved over the years. What I will list are the dogs that had the greatest impact on me, as a judge. These are dogs that became the photo in my head that I’ve carried to compare to the dogs of their breed in the ring. Some of them went on to have a great deal of influence in their breed, and some less so. But when I found each of them, it was certainly a “Eureka!” moment for me.

In my original breed, the German Shepherd Dog, I was fortunate to see many of the “greats” over the years, but the one that I found closest to perfection was (and most likely always will be) CH Alatana’s Mystique. The day I first had my hands on her will always be etched in my mind. Interestingly, the Bearded Collie that became the picture by which I judge the breed was at the same show where I first had my hands on Mystique. The Beardie was Brittania’s Ticket To Ride, a stunning male that epitomized the breed in all ways. In Australian Shepherds, the first to influence me was CH Bayshore’s Flapjack, and the second was the bitch CH Agua Dulce Popcorn Popper. (Coincidentally, both blue merles of outstanding type and fluid movement.) The Bouvier was the one and only CH Galbraith Iron Eyes. What a stallion of a dog he was! Another with the same presence as Iron Eyes was the Old English Sheepdog CH Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect, “Swagger.” (I had to look up his registered name as I always think of him by his call name, as it fit him so very well.) He was a perfect picture when stacked and even more impressive when I put my hands on him. His movement was perfection—always a walk, amble, and then a precisely balanced trot. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi that remains in my mind will always be AM/CAN CH Kingsbury’s Carbon Copy. She was so beautifully feminine and had such presence in and out of the ring. She topped off her beautiful outline with an easy, ground-covering trot. In my own breed, I have seen many outstanding examples from all parts of the world. However, CH Elfwish Lyleth and CH Hum’nbird Keepn Up’Pearances (Kevin) are still two that I felt were the closest to perfection. “Lyleth” went on to produce lovely Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Unfortunately, access to “Kevin” was limited.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? None that I can think of at this time.

Leah James

I live in Havana, Florida (Tallahassee, Florida, suburb). I started in dogs in 1962 and began judging in about 1997. I was a child of parents who spent much of each year traveling. This meant no pets in our household—much to my dismay. There was never a stray that I didn’t try to adopt, but somehow they always managed to “escape” while I was in
school. Hmmm…

In 1962, I acquired my first love, a German Shepherd Dog. This led to the next 15 years immersed in the wonderful world of dog shows, breeding, and helping found the Southeastern Stewards Association. In 1970, I was allowed to co-own a fabulous Pembroke Welsh Corgi male, and my life turned into a true avocation of involvement in all things concerning the sport of purebred dogs. The Pembrokes led to the Cardigan Welsh Corgis and, for a number of years, I was heavily involved in both breeds. In 1990, my husband and I agreed that we needed to concentrate on our Cardigans, and I’ve remained immersed in that breed ever since.

I began judging in 1997 and have been studying purebred dogs ever since. Most of my studies were to be allowed to judge the Herding Group, but along the way I have spent many wonderful times working on the other six Groups, with a heavy concentration on the Toys and Sporting dogs. I’ve been privileged to judge all over the US (including Alaska), and in England and Australia.

I’m a frequent ring steward because this allows me to continue my dog show involvement, and I am still learning more about our beloved dogs.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Dog activities have been my avocation for years. It’s great to be old, retired, and able to play at the game I most love.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? I acquired my first German Shepherd in 1962. (Was introduced to dog shows in Miami, Florida.) It was a male and my first champion, finished by Benny McGovern. My Pembroke Welsh Corgis came in 1970 when I co-owned an English import with Millie Paul. He was my first owner-handled dog. In 1982, Cardigan Welsh Corgis came into my life. I was lucky enough to have found this breed and they became my main breed.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? I had several top winners in both Pembrokes and Cardigans. As an owner-handler on a limited budget—without a great deal of advertising—I was lucky to have several Top 10 Pembrokes and two Cardigans that were Number One in the Breed. I may not have been a prolific breeder, but I am proud to say that my Pembrokes and Cardigans gave a number of people their start and their careers in both breeds.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? I am going to generalize because I believe that this is characteristic of all the Herding Breeds. I prefer to see these breeds shown at a speed that is more specific to each dog. I believe that the dog should set the pace at which he is most comfortable. I love to see a dog moved on a loose lead. I never want to approach a dog from the side. All dogs should be approached from the front, and I generally say something so they are well aware of my presence. This is particularly true of breeds whose hair covers their eyes. Herding breed standards frequently refer to the breed as being “aloof but approachable” in one form or another. I don’t expect them to be total statues, but they should be willing to accept my examination. THEY DON’T HAVE TO LOVE ME!

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? I believe that this is specific to each breed, and my approach and examination should reflect that.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? Unfortunately, many of the more popular breeds are driven by public advertising, the top winners at the shows people attend or those dogs seen on television and in the advertising; in either magazines or other media.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? Some have become very popular due to advertising, the size of the individuals or their ability to win in the show ring. I’m afraid that the public is drawn to a particular breed without much forethought. And, if they encounter the wrong breeder, it is a recipe for a disaster.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? These breeds were meant to work with man. Their temperament, generally, should require them to have a job. Unlike the Toy Breeds (for example), if they are not challenged to use their intelligence, they can become bad citizens or actors. Busy dogs are usually those that have a quality relationship with their owners and are encouraged to use their talents. Any type of job is better than having nothing to do.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? TAKE YOUR TIME! It is not a race to see who can judge the most dogs per minute. Understand that many of these breeds are owner-handled; judge the dog, not the handling ability. If it is a table breed, DON’T JUMP THE TABLE. The handler and dog need a few seconds to get it together. Stand back and view
the silhouette!

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Probably the German Shepherd, the Collie, and any other breed that has been featured in media—whether it is visual or print.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? I judged the Canaan Dog National and my Best of Winners was the 6-9 Puppy Bitch. Several years later, I judged a show in another part of the country and put up a beautiful adult bitch. As I was taking a picture with the bitch and handler, I commented that I had judged a Canaan bitch a few years earlier that looked very much like this bitch. The Handler got the giggles. When I asked what was so funny, she answered that it was the SAME BITCH!

Busy dogs are usually those that have a quality relationship with their owners and are encouraged to use their talents. Any type of job is better than having nothing to do.

Thomas Kilcullen

I live in Newnan Georgia. I showed my first Collie in 1953, almost 70 years ago. I have been judging since 1990.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I used to garden before my back went bad. I have also shown cats in the past.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? I was lucky to get my first from a good breeder. I bought her as a pet; she had nine points when she had to be spayed.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? I owned and handled the first multiple Group-placing Smooth Collie (in the Working Group at the time) as a teenager.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Most Herding breeds should be shown free-baiting, maybe with an
initial stack.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? As breeds that usually worked independently, they are intelligent and are usually easy to train.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? Many of the newer breeds have had some individuals that have been very competitive.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? I love to see at least the herding certified on them. Many also have obedience titles. As mentioned before, they are very
smart dogs.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? Not all breeds have the same temperament. Be aware of this and why it is that way.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? None that I remember. But judging other Groups, I would have several stories to share.

Janice Leonard

I live in Denver, Colorado. I’ve been showing purebred dogs for 60 years and have been judging AKC Shows for 25 years.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I enjoy family, music, art, camping,
and horses.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? My intro to Herding dogs started with my first Sheltie in 1961. (Obedience and 4-H.) By September of 1961, he won a Dog World Award for his scores in Novice A.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? No. I have never been able to take a dog that I bred to national or breed ranking in Shelties.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? One can only judge fairly if you are very aware of how each breed is supposed to stand, move, and interact with its handler. I want to see the German Shepherd Dog own the ground it stands over, but that is not what I look for in a PON.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? Breed character, to me, means the special traits attributed to that breed. Even breeds that herd the same stock may not carry the same traits; like the Australian Cattle Dog and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. There is no standard Herding dog. You have to understand each breed’s job or multiple uses.

What makes Herding breeds so iconic? Herding breeds are bred to work for/with man and take direction. Because of this immense trainability and desire to please, they easily rise to the top when looking for dogs that become iconic; Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, etc. This is why you see so many at agility trials.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? If you equate Group wins and placements as being competitive, then there are several individuals in these newer breeds that have gained the attention of some judges. However, most new breeds do not figure in the placements against longtime, popular breeds. I think of some of the early Canaan Dogs we saw in the Group and then, within a year or so, someone comes along with an exceptional specimen like “Magnum” and Linda Clark. Now, we can all see what a really good one can look like—and the interest grows. Not everyone has to look like him, but I now have a mental picture of the breed in [terms of] balance, movement, and type.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? I believe every dog benefits from performance events. It keeps the dog physically and mentally active. I remember a Golden Retriever bitch that I had in the early 1970s that, at a sanction match, was in one ring being awarded High in Match from the Open B Class while they were waiting for us in the Best in
Match ring. “Libby” and I stepped over the ring rope, changed her leash, and she went on to BIM. She loved every second at a show.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? Never lose sight of the dog’s purpose and herding style.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? German Shepherd Dog, Manhattan; OES, Big Shot; Canaan Dog, Magnum; Sheltie, Halstors Peter Pumpkin.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? Lots of funny stories at shows in the last 60 years, but not in the Group ring. This wasn’t necessarily funny: A few years ago, while judging the Group in Colorado, I caught the heel of my shoe on the edge of a mat—and down I go. I am immediately surrounded by several of my friends, helping me up. Chris James arrives, EMTs arrive, and they all begin asking me questions. Am I ok? Are you hurt? The medical staff insisted that I leave the ring to be checked out. NO! So, they say I need to answer a few questions. What year is it? Day of the week? My address, which I answer correctly. President of the United States? “I will not speak that name.” Laughter, and I was pronounced “still of strong mind” and was allowed to finish my assignment.

Janice McClary

We have owned and bred Old English Sheepdogs since the late 1960s under the Dandalion Prefix. We continue to breed and exhibit our Bobtails, nearing 100 AKC Champions. We have shown in many parts
of the world, completing more than 150 titles.

I began OES many years ago. I now judge all Herding, all Non-Sporting, nine Working, three Toys, Jr. Showmanship, Miscellaneous, and Best in Show. I am an approved judge for ARBA, IACCA and ASCA shows. I have judged in Copenhagen, Moscow, Mexico City, and two trips
to China.

We live in Southern California. We have been breeding and exhibiting Old English Sheepdogs for over 50 years; judging for over 30 years.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? We are retired… but we still produce ceramics for a handful of wholesale customers.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? My husband, Ron, liked Old English Sheepdogs. We attended the Kennel Club of Beverly Hills where we met many breeders and exhibitors and their dogs. Then we proceeded to do what I tell prospective puppy buyers NOT to do. We answered an ad in the newspaper… and bought our first OES. She was 1 1/2 years old. Fortunately, the breeder was local and she showed her dogs. We joined the local club and the rest is history.

We have bred nearly 100 AKC champions and have over 150 foreign titles with our DANDALION prefix. We have shown our dogs in many parts of the world… and we only stopped when the countries banned the docking of tails. Multi-Champion Dandalion’s Dreamweaver Patty was the most-titled OES in the world, with 26 titles and multiple Group and Best in Show wins. Until retirement, Patty was always breeder/owner-handled.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Each Herding dog has unique structure and movement that should correspond with its herding requirement; such as the German Shepherd Dog, the only one that has a Flying Trot. Some of the Herding breeds are well-angulated, others have moderate angulation. Some are square, off-square, and others are long.

So, when exhibiting, each breed should be moved according to its standard and not simply raced around the ring to keep up.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? Character in dogs; you could say their phenotype. This would mean the things that each dog must have to be breed-specific. In my breed, the Old English Sheepdog, each exhibit must be square, including skull, muzzle, height and length of body. They must be narrow through the points of shoulder, with a wide rear. They must have a strong back with a rise OVER THE LOIN—not the hip. They are well-angulated, front and rear, with let-down hocks. Think of the OES as a Quarter Horse, as compared to a race horse. A wide rear with low hocks allows for quick turns; absolutely necessary for a Herding dog. Each of your Herding breeds will possess its own character as described in the standards. If we don’t pay close attention to these specific things, we will soon have a ring of GENERIC dogs.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? Popularity of breeds involves many things. I would like to think it’s because of dedicated breeders. However, let’s be realistic. Advertising, top handlers, and multiple owners promote their breeds. Different areas of our country have specific breeds and more breeders promoting them. You may find a breed like the Beaucheron to be very popular in some areas and not in others. The OES was very popular when movies were made
about them.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? Our new Herding breeds should do very well at the Group level.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? Enjoy your assignment. Evaluate each breed against
its standard.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? There have been—and will continue to be—great Herding dogs, including German Shepherd Dogs, Bouvier des Flandres, Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Old English Sheepdogs, and Pembroke Welsh Corgis. In the past few years, other Herding breeds have often placed in the Group, such as Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, and Pulik.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? We were showing “Patty” in Peru. She won the Breed and, while waiting for the evening’s festivities, hundreds of visitors wanted to see and touch her. So, Ron brought her out of the crate often so they could see her. Group time came and, as we trotted around this large arena, the chant began: “PATTY… PATTY… PATTY.” The crowd erupted—she won the Group and Best in Show!

A few weeks later, in California, Patty was in the Group again when several of the handlers who were in Peru started the “PATTY… PATTY… PATTY” chant. Patty’s head came up and she flew around the ring and, yes, she won the Group. We had a great laugh with our friends… but no one else appreciated it.

Louise Palarik

Born and raised in Chicago, I currently live in Wauconda, Illinois. I have two daughters and nine grandchildren. Raising my family has always been my highest priority. After acquiring my BA in Psychology and my CRP as a Certified Relocation Professional, I had a twenty-year career as a Counselor to relocating families, and I also supervised and managed the Real Estate Inventory
Sales Department. Most recently, I was employed for several years as a part-time contractor at Baxter Healthcare in the EHS (Environmental Health and Safety) Department. My serious interest in show dogs began in 1979 when I purchased my first Collie brood bitch. Ch. Carousel’s The Fire Within, HT, TT, OFA was my heart dog. He was my most successful show dog, placing in the Top 10 and producing multiple champions. I have been judging for 25 years, including the Herding Group, many of the Hounds, Junior Showmanship, and Best in Show.

Dogs have been a huge part of my life since I was a child. Upon graduating high school, I purchased my first Collie and was briefly introduced to the world of Conformation. I also trained this Collie for Obedience. He was a wonderful dog. As time went on, however, it became necessary for me to place him in a companion home while I went on to a demanding full-time job while beginning a family. In 1979, I purchased my first brood bitch and that is when I became seriously interested in the Conformation aspect of dog shows. Once I started showing my puppies, I was hooked. My love of animals naturally nurtured my interest in other breeds, and thus began my thoughts of judging. I have been judging for 25 years and find that it is enjoyable and rewarding, albeit challenging. To me, a judge is a forever student of the many breeds and of the sport of
purebred dogs.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I thoroughly enjoy my family and, especially, my nine grandchildren. Our get-togethers are the highlight of my days. My favorite activity, aside from dogs and my family, is working outdoors, maintaining the five acres that I live on.

My introduction to the Herding breeds was a natural result of my love for the Collie breed… and for dogs in general. For a time, I also bred and raised some very beautiful Shetland Sheepdogs. Unfortunately, I found that raising my children as a single parent, working full-time, and trying to raise and show two different breeds was not feasible. Regrettably, I had to give up
the Shelties. They are a lovely breed. They helped me to realize that even though I could not own another breed, I could still study other breeds that were of interest to me and learn as much as possible about them. A dear friend had Australian Shepherds, so I learned about them from frequent visits to her home. Another friend became my mentor in Bearded Collies. I was expanding my exposure to many other breeds and found this to be very exciting. Herding breed seminars and breed specialties were next on my agenda. I thoroughly enjoyed attending these Seminars and Specialties and meeting other Herding breed exhibitors and judges. Often, I would share a room with another seminar attendee from a different part of the country. This was a tremendous learning experience because it afforded me the opportunity to study their breed, and also to hear about differences in that breed across the country. Respect for other breeds and their breeders, as well as great friendships, was born in this manner.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs? My most successful home-bred show dog was Ch. Carousel’s The Fire Within, HT, TT, OFA. “Ryan” was my “heart dog” before I knew what a “heart dog” was. There was a soulful and undeniable bond between us. Not only was he smart and beautiful, but I could not have asked for a better stud dog or a more devoted and loving companion. He was my Top 10 dog and produced multiple champions.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? With respect to breed-specific presentation, I would suggest that most of the Herding breeds will stop four-square. The handler will always set the German Shepherd Dog up and, for the other breeds, handlers will reset a foot as necessary. For me, the more naturally the dog is presented, the better. They should be approached with confidence at a three quarter angle (between the head and shoulder) so they are aware that someone is coming towards them, but not in a threatening or challenging way. I always place my hand under the dog’s chin and ask the handler to show the bite as required by their standard. Then, I will go over the head, checking eyes, muzzle, backskull, and ears. Next, I will go over the body (comparing it to the specifications in the breed standard) being sure to check for coat quality and texture, set-on of tail, tail length, and musculature of rear legs. There are many and varied coat types in these breeds; for example, Old English Sheepdog, Puli, Collie, Bergamasco, Bearded Collie, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, and Bouvier des Flandres, to name a few. Each requires reaching into and under the coat to feel their bodies and their structure. Herding breeds should be in working condition. They should not be overweight and you should be able to feel flat muscles on the forequarters as well as the hindquarters. Temperament is also assessed. Some of the Herding breeds are “aloof,” but they must stand for the hands-on examination, which should be brief but thorough. The Herding breeds should be able to get from point A to point B showing no effort. If they look like they are working too hard to get around the ring, they ARE working too hard to get around the ring, and that dog or bitch will not be able to perform the duties for which they were bred. Faulty movement should be faulted. We, as judges, must remember their origins as well as the individual characteristics that makes a dog the particular breed that it is.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? Temperament is important in the Herding breeds. Some of the Herding breeds are more independent than others, and are purposefully bred that way so that they can do their job with minimal (or no) direction from the shepherd. Some of the Herding breeds’ purpose is to function as guardians, and this is OK for those individual breeds because they were the protectors of their homes, their families, and their livestock. Trying to assess temperament in the ring is difficult; but, I do appreciate a dog owning his space and showing confidence in the ring. In the end, they are family dogs, too. You should be able to examine them briefly, but thoroughly. If you cannot, they will need to be excused. During current times, however, patience may be required for shy or nervous puppies in the Herding Group, just as you might encounter in the other Groups. With the cancellation of dog shows and training classes due to the pandemic, puppies may not be as well-trained or socialized as they have been for past shows. Use your kindness and your best judgment when approaching and examining puppies during these times of quarantine.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? When I think of an “iconic” breed in the Herding Group, I first think of the German Shepherd Dog because of its extreme versatility and length of service to man over the decades and in many wars. I also think of the Australian Shepherd (an American breed) with its high degree of ability to perform any of the tasks requested by its master. These dogs are also very intelligent, easy to train, and easy to live with. Another very popular breed within the Herding Group is the Border Collie. They are the premier Herding breed in the Group and are very eager to do a job for their owner. An extremely high energy dog, they are capable of being trained to do most anything. A mildly active breed within the Herding Group is the Collie (Rough or Smooth-coated). The Collie is a happy, gentle, intelligent, devoted, eager to please and easily trained Herding dog. He does very well with children and other pets within the family. Everyone recognizes the “Lassie Dog!” The Herding breeds, in general, can be trained to perform in many of the various AKC performance events.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? The Herding Group has welcomed many new breeds over the past several years. Though limited in their numbers, some of them are doing very well in the Breed, Group, and BIS rings. I believe this testifies to the devoted breeders who are working very diligently to present the very best specimens of their breed. One particular newer breed that immediately comes to mind as being highly successful since its acceptance into the Herding Group is the Miniature American Shepherd. This breed has the same high intelligence, dedication, trainability, and versatility as the Australian Shepherd, but in a smaller package. There are some lovely examples of the MAS in the rings today.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? Although, we cannot assess the Herding ability of a particular specimen when we are judging the dogs in this Group, I do think that putting performance titles on the dogs is an asset. As a breeder, I want to know that I am perpetuating the herding instinct in my line. That herding instinct is an integral part of who that dog is; this includes temperament, as well as the ability to solve a problem and complete a task. These dogs should be able to “think on their feet.” If we, as breeders, are not diligent about preserving such attributes in our dogs, they will become just another dog.

My advice to new judges to the Herding Group would be to please remember what these dogs were bred to do over the past many decades. Even though, in many cases, we may not be using them for their original purpose, they were selected for the qualities that made them good herders, dedicated protectors of stock, and superb family companions. The nature of a good Herding dog translates to a devoted, intelligent, responsive breed with specific behaviors that also make it a trustworthy family member. Sound movement is key in a good Herding dog, and type (outline) is what makes a specific breed immediately recognizable.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Within the past two decades, a very influential sire has surfaced and made his mark within the Herding Group. He is Rough Collie Ch. Fantasy’s Bronze Talisman, ROM. At the time of the publication of the 2019 Collie Club of America Yearbook, this Collie had produced 172 champions of record. I believe this to be more champions than any other sire in the entire Herding Group. He has also produced numerous top specialty and all-breed winners here and outside of the US.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? The story that comes to mind involves an assignment where I judged Shetland Sheepdogs. My ring was set off by itself, but there were many spectators watching. It was a rather small entry as I recall. When I pointed to my WD, there was a huge round of applause as the handler of the little male Sheltie threw her arms around me in a stifling bear hug, exclaiming, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. That finished him!” As I removed myself from her embrace, I breathlessly congratulated her and told her what a lovely specimen I thought he was. Later, I was told that this Sheltie had decided several weeks prior that he did not like dog shows any longer. He only needed a minor to finish and he had recently refused to show for several judges. Though Shelties are not required to be non-stop showmen, on this day, this lovely, deserving little male did everything just right to claim his win!

Jan Paulk

I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I started with my first show dog in 1971, so 50 years in dogs. I started judging in 1998, which is almost 23 years as a judge.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Yes, I enjoy live theater productions, especially plays and opera. I read a great deal, both fiction and non-fiction. I maintain a deep interest in public policy. I also love to attend estate sales on a hunt for objet d’art.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? I grew up with purebred dogs, but they were not shown: American Cockers, a Beagle, and a Boston Terrier. I attended my first dog show, the National Capitol KC, Washington, DC, in 1971. BIS was the great German Shepherd Dog, Ch. Lakeside’s Gilligan’s Island. I felt an overwhelming desire to become involved. Thus, my first show dog was a “Gilligan” son.

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? No.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Breed-specific presentation involves correct conditioning and exhibiting at the correct pace. It should follow what is described in the Standard.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? Herding dogs are intelligent, purposeful, intuitive, and loyal. They are allowed to be somewhat aloof with strangers.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? Most are eager to please and relatively easy to train. Their intelligence and attachment to family make them excellent pets, as well as working herding dogs and show dogs.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? It depends upon the breed and their beginning in the AKC. Some are clearly more competitive than others. One breed whose merit has made it very competitive is the Miniature American Shepherd.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? The value of a performance title is a sought-after accomplishment in all breeds.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? Learn anatomy and study movement. Movement requirements vary among the Herding breeds and you must seek the correct movement for the breed. Herding breeds are balanced. (If you cannot see balance, you cannot adequately judge this Group.) It is also imperative to learn the correct herding style for each breed.
I’d recommend attending Herding Trials Perhaps you can volunteer to be the timekeeper, as I did.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Many breeds have a dog from their past that is still influencing today’s herders:

“Lance” and “Gilligan” from German Shepherds, “Iron Eyes” from Bouviers, “Peter Pumpkin” from Shelties.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? Whenever a Herding dog slips the lead and continues around the ring without missing a beat: Thrilling! Watching the empty-handed handler? Funny!

Linda Robey

Herding Group JudgesI live in High Ridge, Missouri. It’s about 20 miles west of St. Louis. I have had dogs all my life. My parents were big dog lovers, always purebred, but we did not show. I started showing in 1978; 44 years showing. I started judging my own breed in 1996; 25 years.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs?
My husband and I like to travel in our RV. We love the national parks and hiking. We also shoot trap and skeet. We are hoping to try some sporting clays this year.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? My family had a Collie when I was very young. In my early teens, I bought a German Shepherd Dog. She went everywhere with me and ran beside my horse when I was riding. In the 1970s, I switched to Doberman Pinschers and was showing them in Obedience. While I loved them, I wanted to get back to my Herding dogs. After a lot of study, I selected the Belgian Sheepdog and have had Belgian Sheepdogs or Belgian Tervuren ever since.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? The Herding breeds are all similar. They are shown naturally. They are stacked, but not held like many other breeds. After gaiting, I like to see them stand naturally without the handler touching them. This can tell you a lot about their structure. Most Herding dogs are presented this way.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? The Herding breeds vary quite a bit. Some are very reserved with strangers; others are joyful, like the Beardie. So, you must know the standard to know what to expect from each breed.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? It really depends. Some of the newer breeds still have small entries and many entries are also geographic. So, you don’t see them placing often in the Groups. But a few of the newer breeds, like the Berger Picard, Pumik, and Pyrenean Shepherd, have become competitive quickly.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? It is very important to me as a breeder, since I started in Obedience and the motto of one of my breeds, the Belgian Tervuren, is: “A well-balanced Tervuren has a CH on one end and a UDT on the other.” The value is that it shows the character of the breed; the desire to work with its human and the desire and instinct to do what it was bred to do. You are preserving the character of
the breed.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? Many of the Herding dogs are reserved with strangers. Do not expect them to respond to you. Do, however, expect them to stand for the exam. Be sure that they know you are there before touching them. They are often intent on their handler, so speak to the handler or do something so that the dog knows you are there.

Many of the herding breeds are owner-handled, especially the lower entry breeds. There are many great breed examples, so please do not overlook them.

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? I judged a few of the first shows held during the pandemic. The clubs and their members worked extremely hard to make the shows work and be successful. So, please be kind to the club members, the volunteers, and your fellow exhibitors. We are all in this together… let us make it work.

Laurie King Telfair

Herding Group JudgesI recently moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas. I’ve been judging since 2001 and judge the Herding and Hound Groups, part of the Sporting Group, and Poodles. I’m showing my final German Shepherd Dog now in obedience, and training in tracking and herding.

When I was 12, an AKC licensed handler moved to my neighborhood—and I parked myself on her doorstep. My family bought a German Shepherd and we went to local shows, bred a litter or two, and dabbled in the dog world, sporadically, from then on. (That would be 70-plus years and counting.) My serious involvement began after marriage. We bought a German Shepherd, and I met a friend, Pat Butcher. Together, we showed and co-bred German Shepherds for the next 50 years, usually under her kennel name of Carwin, but sometimes under mine, which was Tela.

We were a small-time, low budget operation that bred mainly to have our own dogs to show. We kept most of what we bred and finished a very high percentage of those. Most had obedience titles as well. Presenting an athletic, functional dog of outstanding character was always our goal, as we believed that was what the breed was meant to be.

Breed-specific presentation is important. Most Herding dogs, when they actually get a chance to herd, are keen workers that generally do most of their tasks at an efficient endurance trot. They use quick bursts of speed, intermittently, to control their animals. All this calls for a fit, toned body in proper weight. A dog that looks eager and capable of doing a day’s work is what I’m looking for in the ring. A dog that’s racing around like its tail is on fire or one that is scrambling, lurching, pulling, and frantically trying to get back to its person is not the picture I want to see. Unfortunately, that type of presentation gained popularity early on in the German Shepherd ring—and has persisted. It does the breed no favors and I discourage it in my ring. If you are a judge, please discourage it in your ring also.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? Breed character is one of the key things that makes a dog a member of a specific breed. If it doesn’t act like a Flufferhund, then it isn’t a good Flufferhund, no matter how many good qualities it has. Many Herding dog breeds are hard-wired to be wary of strangers. They were developed to work with only a few people in isolated environments. Being standoffish isn’t the same as being shy. Some Herding breeds were developed to do multiple tasks. The German Shepherd Dog is one of these. Please remember that German Shepherds served in Vietnam, moving on to a new handler as their old handler finished his tour and went home. The military dogs didn’t go home. They gave their life for their job. Please don’t reward a dog that shows bad character in the ring. That would dishonor the service of the brave dogs that
give everything.

It’s not hard to discern character. No specific test needed.
Pay attention to the body language of the dog. A dog might be unwilling to stack without being frightened. A dog that is tense and high-strung should be watched further to see if it gets itself together. You can tell the difference between a fearful and a naughty dog.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? Many of the newer breeds recognized in the last twenty years have gone into the Herding Group and quite a few of those have become big winners. A couple that come to my mind are the lovely Canaan Dog, “Gale,” shown by Linda Clark, and the vivacious Pumi, “Casper,” shown by the Harpers. I think most judges are interested in the new breeds and are willing to give them a good look in the Group.

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? I’m all for performance titles. Although, as a judge, I have no way of knowing if a dog has one or not. But for the breed, it demonstrates that the dog can still do the tasks it was bred to do. For a judge, I think it is vital to go watch dogs working in the field. I really think it should be required for a judge to study dogs herding in all the various styles, such as tending or doing close work like penning or separating livestock. Seeing this makes the standard come to life and illustrates the reason behind the wording.

You can tell the difference between a fearful and a naughty dog.

Neena L. Van Camp

Herding Group JudgesI now live in the Knoxville, Tennessee. I moved here from outside Cincinnati, Ohio, at the end of 2010.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I like to garden. Since Tennessee has a longer growing season, I take advantage of this to grow a larger variety of my own fruits and vegetables, extending their harvest in some years even through fall and into spring. I am also able to have longer flower blooming seasons with an even larger number of plants than I did in Ohio. I also really enjoy traveling. I just hope I can begin to do that more as the COVID pandemic, hopefully, resolves.

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? As a child, my family had a pet Collie. After college graduation and marriage, I bought a “pet” Pembroke from a notable breeder and judge in the Charleston, West Virginia, area near where we were living that year. Having come from a home with two Collies as house pets, I knew that a Collie would not fit into our apartment. Plus, I confess, I really did not want all of that hair in my house. Very soon after the Pem came into my life, I became interested in owning a “show dog.” I learned more about dog care, exhibiting, and breeding through a local training club, an all-breed club, and later, the specialty clubs.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Most of the Herding breeds are what I think of as free-stacked dogs. They usually are not those with handlers kneeling behind them, holding them in position, except, sometimes, on the individual exam. The Herding breeds’ job is to work with—and to move—livestock around to a certain degree. There are a variety of required movements within the Herding breeds and they MUST be able to move properly for their specific breed.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? To me, it is that they were the stars in books, magazines, movies, and TV. Their stories dramatized their interactions with humans as well as their “reasoning” ability.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds since 2000. How competitive are they? Quite a few of them are very competitive, mostly those that have a strong core of dedicated breeders and exhibitors.

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? Learn from some of the parent club mentors. Try to attend the nationals and/or major specialties as you learn about them.

Joyce Vanek

Herding Group JudgesI have had dogs my entire life. My family raised and showed Cockers. I began my conformation life with Miniature Schnauzers and Beagles, with a couple of Border Collies and Golden Retrievers. In 1975, I blended my Lippizan and Tennessee Walking Horse family with Old English Sheepdogs and then Portuguese Water Dogs. I began showing my OES in obedience, attaining a few High in Trials and Herding Certificates along the way (even with my first Portuguese Water Dog).

I am the proud breeder/owner-handler of many champion, obedience, herding, water, agility, Group-winning, and Best in Show Timbermist PWD and OES.

I am an AKC judge for the Herding, Working, and Sporting Groups, some Non-Sporting breeds, and Miniature Schnauzers.

I have judged in Asia, South America, Australia, Europe, and Mexico. Some of my most interesting assignments have been Westminster, Morris and Essex, Kennel Club of Philadelphia, Woofstock, and Fargo ,North Dakota, as well as national and regional specialties. I recently became a Hunt Test Judge for Beagles, Bassets, and Dachshunds.

I live in the beautiful mountain town of Evergreen, Colorado. I have been “in dogs” my entire life. My mother raised and showed Cockers, which encouraged my interest in exhibiting. Two years ago, I received a solid gold 🙂 medallion from AKC commemorating 25 years as an AKC judge.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I have many interests and hobbies, most that can include the company of my dogs; Peak Bagging, aka Mountain Climbing (four of the Seven Summits), kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding, biking, rodeo, XC skiing, baseball, sculpting, golf-lite, wildlife, and landscape photography,

I am a sommelier and a dental professional. I have guided dentists and hygienists through wine tastings to raise funds for no-cost dental care for low income families. I have been on the dental surgery team at the Denver Zoo and wildlife sanctuaries, working on lions, and tigers and bears (and an ark-full of other exotic animals)!

Can I talk about my introduction to the Herding breeds? I had a very persistent Border Collie in the early 1970s. My dream was to have an Old English Sheepdog after having Cockers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Golden Retrievers. I gave my husband a Golden Retriever puppy after we climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (1975) and he gifted me with an Old English Sheepdog for an engagement gift (diamond ring, too). Our first home was next to a vast Hereford ranch. “Pippin,” our Old English Sheepdog puppy, felt a strong duty to keep the livestock in line. Along with our first
competition in AKC obedience (OES HITs!) we joined a herding/livestock dog club and participated at the Scottish Highland Games and Herding Trials. My first Portuguese Water Dog (Multi BIS Timbermist’s Lancar Flor de Mar CDX, AWD, etc.) was awarded a Herding Instinct Certificate. “Lancer” looked like the black sheep of the family with our five OES. Participating in various herding events increased my interest in all the herders and their different styles of flock “management.” Eye, loose-eye, drovers, heelers, headers, etc. They truly are “living fences.”

Have I bred any influential Herding dogs or shown any notable winners? In my heart and on various pedigrees. Multiple Group placements before the huge Working Group had herding breeds allocated to make up the Herding Group (1983). ROMs, POMs, Top Ten, Best in Show/Brace, HITs.

Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Proper movement/proper speed, overall condition, and correct grooming are essential elements for each breed: German Shepherd Dog—Flying Trot; Old English Sheepdog—Pace and amble are acceptable, long neck with a topline that is higher in the rear than at the withers; Pyrenean Shepherds—A flowing gait “shaves the earth” and all the variations on proper presentation of the different coat types, which may include matelotes (felted hair on croup and rear), cadenettes (matted hair on chest and forelegs); Briard—“Quicksilver” movement, double dewclaws, low-carried tail ending in a crook; Border Collie—Movement, head carried level or below withers, with hocks close together; Puli—Corded or brushed coat; Bergamasco—Three types of hair that form flocks; Bearded Collie—Natural, natural, natural presentation, may do the “Beardie Bounce”; Swedish Valhund—Double coat with harness markings; Beauceron—Movement extended trot; Spanish Water Dog—Single coat, natural curls or rustic cords, minimal trimming, traditionally has a docked tail.

What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Herding breeds? Attitude, type, movement that is or is not shown. Best assessed in a pasture or by livestock pens, at Herding trials, and at various performance events.

Several Herding breeds have enjoyed enormous popularity. What makes them so iconic? The Herders that are most popular have become that way due to their loyalty and friendship to man. Most are notable for their ability to perform the work they were designed to do; gather and move sheep, reindeer, cattle, swine, kids (human and goat), ducks/geese/etc., protection, search and rescue, etc… They can get the job done and be great companions. They are multi-taskers. The ease and maintenance of coat care for some of the breeds contributes to their popularity.

The Herding Group has added more than a dozen breeds
since 2000. How competitive are they? Some of the new breeds are very competitive. Excellent representatives can draw a lot of attention and be competitive—of course!

Can I speak to the value of a performance title in a Herding dog? A performance title for a working Herding dog is important for keeping focus on functionality of the breed. It helps to maintain purpose and it helps to identify their natural instinct. (Plus, the dogs tend to enjoy the activity.) What do you have when you take the “herd” out of the Australian Shepherd? Cattle out of the Australian Cattle Dog?

Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Herding Group? Go watch the herders in action. See how their form follows function. Attend Herding Trials, Agility Trials, Drafting, Schutzhund, Temperament Tests. Visit with well-established breeders who have dogs that do both their specific jobs and [compete in] Conformation. When judging, keep in mind that these dogs should be in condition, well-muscled, bright-eyed, having the potential and ability to alternate being in a show ring or out on a ranch working livestock or doing performance, protection, scent or tracking work. Having a Herding dog in the conformation ring that “likes the groceries” is far from correct. Be aware, some are presented with “honest’ working nicks and scars.

Which Herding dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Ch. Atlanta’s Mystique (German Shepherd Dog), Ch. Galbraith’s Iron Eye (Bouvier des Flandres), Ch. Cordmakers’ Mississippi Mud (Puli), Ch. Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect (Old English Sheepdog), Ch. Dejavu’s In Like Flynn (Briard), Ch. Covy Tucker-Hill’s Manhattan (German Shepherd Dog), Ch. Lockenhaus’ Rumor Has It V Kenlyn (German Shepherd Dog). a few Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, Corgis, and
many more…

Is there a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Herding breeds? I was judging the Herding Group at the Portland Cluster several years ago where I had pulled the dogs I was considering for the four Group placements. When I went to point GROUP ONE to my choice (an Icelandic Sheepdog) I did not see the dog in the ring. (They are small, but not THAT small.) Well, the handler had not only left the ring, but had hauled back to her set-up. I had already said, “Group One to the Icelandic Sheepdog!” My mind was totally set. People hustled to get her and the dog back to the ring—even though it seemed like an eternity. The really fun part is that the dog went on to be awarded Best in Show (first IS ever). D-R-A-M-A, fun and…

The woman showing a Belgian Sheepdog in torrential rain and extreme mud (even under the tent); slipping, falling, and sliding out of the ring and into an audience of men. Her skirt wound up around her waist and who knows where her lingerie wound up?!!! I asked if she was hurt. Her response: “Only my pride. And
the view!”

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